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Meat Hygiene Service: Duty of Fairness

The Countess of Mar asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Parliamentary Secretary, Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (Lord Donoughue): The Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food and the Meat Hygiene Service require Meat Hygiene Service staff, when enforcing meat hygiene regulations, to act fairly.

Food Labelling: GM Content

Lord Swinfen asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Donoughue: We recognise that purchasers have a right to know whether animal feed contains material from genetically modified crops such as soya and maize. This will be the case where the soya, maize and their by-products are imported from countries where GM varieties are grown and not subsequently segregated.

The UK Government are pressing the Commission to submit to the Council its proposed regulation on novel animal feeds or, in its absence, specific labelling rules which would indicate the presence of GM materials in a fair and consistent way throughout the European Union. In so doing we recognise that there is no evidence that meat, milk and eggs for the consumer could contain genetic material from GM components in animal feed.

Food Standards Bill

Lord Morris of Manchester asked Her Majesty's Government:

21 Apr 1999 : Column WA164

Lord Donoughue: We are now considering the committee's report and intend to respond to its recommendations before the Food Standards Bill receives a Second Reading, as requested by the committee.

E.coli 0157

The Countess of Mar asked Her Majesty's Government:

    In view of the number of incidents of contamination of primary agricultural produce by E.coli 0157, what measures they are taking to identify the sources from which the animals involved have become infected.[HL1791]

Lord Donoughue: E.coli 0157 is a dangerous pathogen that is infectious to humans at low doses and can cause mortality. It has been categorised on the same level as anthrax for the safety of those at risk, e.g., laboratory workers. Nevertheless, it can infect animals without causing disease. It will be present naturally in the environment of many farm animals and exposure will come from a number of sources. It was only identified relatively recently and there is a lot we do not know about it. Incidents of E.coli 0157 in humans which are thought to be associated with an animal source are investigated at the request of the medical authorities. Samples are examined and epidemiological data collected in order to establish a database for scientific analysis.

Vitamin B6: Food Advisory Committee Review

Earl Baldwin of Bewdley asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether it is appropriate for Professor Frank Woods, having resigned as chairman of the Expert Advisory Group on Vitamin and Minerals following criticisms from the House of Commons Agriculture Select Committee in its report on vitamin B6, to participate in the review of vitamin B6 and other vitamins that will be undertaken by the Food Advisory Committee once it receives the report of the expert group; and, if so, on what grounds.[HL1880]

Lord Donoughue: Yes. I do not accept the premise of the noble Earl's Question. Professor Woods is a valued member of the Food Advisory Committee and the Government see no reason why he should not participate in the committee's consideration of the report of the expert advisory group when it becomes available.

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